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Civic pride: Writer says Nick Diaz should nab ‘Stocktonian of the Year’ award

Steve Cofield

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Stockton's reputation has taken a beating over the years. Between foreclosures, a struggling school system and climbing crime rates, the northern California city needs to something to hang its hat on. According to the local newspaper, that something may be mixed martial artist Nick Diaz.

Yes, the same Diaz who goes on foul-mouthed rants, misses drug tests, no-shows press conferences, produces hilarious YouTube driving rants and sucker punched Jason Miller on national TV, is the guy who can help remake poor Stockton's image.

MMAWeekly found a gem. Diaz was placed on this list by Stockton Record writer Mike Klocke:

» Kenya Hernandez: The then eighth-grade student at Roosevelt School in Stockton testified on Capitol Hill about issues faced in inner city schools. Hernandez was strong, forthright and powerful in her messages to policy makers.

» Sheldon Arce, Alex Pascua and Jonah Phillips: The three students at Marshall Elementary School in Stockton sat down with Record reporter Lori Gilbert and school officials to relate their personal experiences about being bullied at school. Their comments were the most compelling and powerful words in a Record interview the past year. I applaud them for their courage.{ysp:more}

» Nick Diaz: This isn't about maturity or proper behavior and decision making. The Stockton mixed martial arts fighter has none of those. What he has is talent and presence and - if he can keep (or get) that head of his on his shoulders - the potential to be a Stockton athletic rallying cry, ala Dallas Braden. Perhaps this is a year early. If he can win a huge upcoming fight and learn to act like an adult, maybe we'll have another Yaqui Lopez on our hands.

» LaCresia Hawkins: She grew up in southeast Stockton and has become a leader in promoting healthy eating and combating childhood obesity through her work with the Community Partnership for Families of San Joaquin. She helps organize the group's grass-roots health efforts.

» Gregory Basso: The retired Stockton businessman made a video which quickly went viral and became the rallying point for a community-wide assault on Forbes magazine's misery rankings of Stockton.

All kidding aside, athletes can serve a major role in boosting civic pride. Diaz may be a little off his rocker, but his success in the cage can at least give Stockton something positive to trumpet.

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